Cast: Janaki, Karan, Karunaas, MK Vijayan, Saritha, Shyam Sundar, Sugandha Ram, Vikram Chakravarthy
Direction: Santosh Sivan
Screenplay: S Sasikumaran, Santosh Sivan, Sharanya Rajagopal
Story: Santosh Sivan
Music: Vishal Chandrashekar
Background score: Vishal Chandrashekar
Cinematography: Santosh Sivan
Dialogues: Aarthi, Shyam Sundar, Siva Kumar
Editing: TS Suresh
Art direction: Sunil Babu
Lyrics: Charukesh Sekar, Karunaas
Distribution: Thirrupathy Brothers
Films on the Sri Lankan Tamils and their issues have been hitting the screen at regular intervals. However cinematographer Santosh Sivan’s Inam attempts to stand out by not taking any sides and is a neutral recording of happenings post 2009 in the island nation. The director also has not taken the names of Sri Lanka or India anywhere and sticks to ‘the other side’.
The film opens with Arvind Swamy’s voice which is doing a routine investigation of Rajni (Sugandha Ram) in a refugee camp and Inam goes into a flashback mode tracking a tumultuous journey of people affected by political strife.
Saritha as Tsunami akka runs a home where orphaned children live under one roof doing various things with different objectives and ambitions. There is also teacher Stanley (Karunas) and his wife and under this support system, the children lead their life. In comes Nandan, a special child who gets assimilated into the group. In a way, Inam is a view finder of sorts, of the fall out of an ethnic cleansing through the eyes of this motley group.
In a film which is laden with grief, sorrow, uncertainty and intense emotion, Nandan brings in color and cheer. Played by Karan, a special child himself, he is all things true. Nandan is so very adorable that you route for his happiness and let your eyes go moist in his despair. In other words, Nandan is truth personified and endearing.
From the very moment he starts with ‘naan thoonganum’, he monopolizes the story. Be it his yearn for a kiss (oru kiss venum) or his protective instinct towards Rajni or his happiness towards finding his brother Jeeva or his search for water to help his friend, Karan rocks! Somehow life seems so simple, uncomplicated and purposeful in his presence. His plastic bag of a skull (Mister Friend) and antics with Rajni bring in the smiles and you get attached with him fast.
Inam screams of technical brilliance and its greatest attraction is undoubtedly Santosh Sivan’s cinematography which has a silken edge and a meticulous craftsmanship. Every frame in the movie stands out for its superlative content, lighting and angle. It is his area and the cinematographer has not lost a single opportunity to revel in it.
A mixed bag of varieties of live and dead fishes in the scene when there is a strong plea from Karunas and the locals towards foreign journalists not to leave the place is a fine example where the profound content is aptly matched by the insightful visuals.
Vishal Chandrsekar’s music enhances the mood of the film and helps the narration. A talent to watch out for! T S Suresh demonstrates his editing competence in Inam delivering a crisp cohesive product.
The most powerful scene is the one when the children are searched by the army men with a perverted intention that goes on to convey the various types of struggles that these people go through and also the pre-interval blast scene.
On the flip side, the accent seems to fluctuate between Sri Lankan Tamil and TN Tamil leading to inconsistency. Saritha on an oratorical mission during a blast, with words that don’t belong to Sri Lanka could have been avoided. And also her sudden decision to marry the children off as a part of solution seems quite vague.
VERDICT: On the whole, Santosh Sivan’s is a well-made poignant film, a human story told in a docudrama way. Take a bow Santosh Sivan, you can be proud of Inam.: A disturbing tale, brilliantly captured.